Journals from Spain - Center for Cross-Cultural Studies
2009-11-10 Cultural Sites of Sevilla and Opportunities to Meet New Friends
A view of the center of Sevilla, with La Giralda (tall tower) in front of the sunrise
Time here is sure flying by! We have been in Spain for over 2 months now, which means that there are about 6 weeks left in the first semester. Its incredible how quickly each week flies with school and traveling and getting to know Sevilla and the people here.
I wanted to tell you all a little more about some of the short visits that our program, CC-CS, has offered to us since we have been here. They are all to famous historical sites or museums in the city. There is so much to see here! I personally have not been on all of the visits, but I will tell you a bit about some of the ones I have been on.
Some of the places I have visited are the Cathedral, the Real Alcazar (the royal palace), the Museum of Archaeology, and the Archivo de Indias. Fatima, Katie, and I visited the Archivo de Indias as a part of one of our classes, and it houses a lot of old documents from the time of Columbus and other conquistadores. The Real Alcazar is a beautiful, grand royal palace that has been there for a long time. The tile work, ceilings, and architecture in general are all quite stunning. It is now a tourist site and also the place where the king of Spain stays when he visits Sevilla (we obviously couldnt go through all of the palace). It also has beautiful gardens that people can stroll through or sit and study in.
The Museum of Archaeology was quite fascinating. It has a lot of artifacts from Roman times (and other periods as well, including statues and glass and mosaics. The Cathedral is one of my favorite places in the whole city. It is the 3rd largest cathedral (in general) and the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, which is totally believable when I walk past it or go inside it. The columns are huge inside and the stained glass at the top of the walls is very beautiful and detailed and was put there in such a way that it allows natural light to seep into the building.
The first Sunday that we were here Fatima and I went with some friends to Mass inside the cathedral. It was a really neat cultural experience to sit in the pews and listen to the Mass (in Spanish of course) in such a great building. The cathedral also has a tower connected to it called La Giralda. I can see the tower every day on my walk across the river (Rio Guadalquivir) to and from school, and it is quite a magnificent sight. When we went on the visit to the Cathedral with our professors, we decided to climb to the top of the tower. The interesting thing about the tower is that you dont climb stairs to get to the top; you climb ramps. The reason for this is that this tower used to be a Muslim tower (during the time the Moors ruled in this area) from which a man used to call all the people to prayer 5 times a day. Now, it is definitely not an easy climb to the top, and I cant imagine doing it 5 times a day. Apparently the Muslims that lived there couldnt either because they constructed ramps so that the man who went up there every day could ride a horse to the top. The view from the top is amazing " we could see all of Sevilla spread out before our eyes. It was one of my most memorable experiences here so far.
CC-CS also offers another great opportunity to all of the students in our program: tutoring Spanish children in English. I personally tutor a really sweet 14-year-old girl, but there are a lot of students that tutor younger children too. Its a neat way to get to know another Spanish family, to earn a few Euros, and to help the students in their language development.
Speaking of getting to know Spanish people, I am very excited about the fact that I am finally starting to meet Spanish people my age through various circumstances. I have a great, very friendly Intercambio (a girl that I meet with to practice my Spanish and to practice her English) and have also met some Spanish friends through another American friend of mine. I think it is a very good thing that we are all here for a year, because the time goes by very, very quickly, and I know that it is hard to make friends for only 3 and months. I am feeling quite comfortable here and excited about continuing to improve my Spanish and to get to know people better.